History of the Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce
Today’s rapidly growing Chamber of Commerce had its start in Garden Grove back in 1907 as the “Garden Grove Improvement Association.” Mr. W.L. Ross was its first President (now known as the Chairman of the Board of Directors), and the Chamber was housed at the old Price Hotel. Rent was $10.00 per month. Membership dues were only $5.00 per year.
By 1913, along with similar associations across the United States, the organization was expanded and improved, and the name was changed to Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce. During the early years emphasis was placed on civic problems, and the Chamber’s progress was largely one of promoting public facilities. Resolutions were written condemning the throwing of paper in citizen’s yards and commending the installation of 68 fire hydrants.
In 1928 Dr. C.C. Violette, the community’s honored pioneer citizen, made a speech listing the many enterprises and improvements up to that year. These included street lights, streets paved from curb to curb, purchasing four and one half acres for a city park, purchasing a fire engine, and the building of a splendid fire hall and assuming control and the expenses of the YMCA building. Garden Grove boasted the first county YMCA building west of the Rocky Mountains. It was established prior to World War I and was used extensively as a meeting hall for the community. In 1928 the Chamber also had a successful membership drive, netting 45 new members, and bringing the grand total to 111.
During 1929, the leadership recognized the importance of a balanced program of work for the Chamber. More emphasis was placed on the expression of the businessman’s point of view regarding civic development. Dues for ranchers, farmers, orchardists, and “other tillers of the soil” were $5.00, and other business members were charged $10.00.
The Chamber was incorporated in May of 1930, with 150 members and cash in the treasury of $12.33. Shortly thereafter, the Chamber was impacted by the depression. According to the records, as late as January 14, 1938, the finances were so low that it was voted to remove the telephone service from the Chamber office.
Concerns of the 1920’s and 1930’s were aptly expressed by the minutes of the meetings of that time. The Chamber was involved in getting an improved drainage system, and members showed interest in incorporation of Garden Grove, but were so soundly defeated in that effort, it wasn’t brought up again until 25 years later.
The Chamber accepted free painting of street signs, passed out samples of bread made from lima beans, strongly opposed daylight savings time, insisted that all school teachers reside in Garden Grove and helped them locate here, and were actively involved in the rebuilding of Garden Grove after the March 10, 1933 earthquake.
After the Second World War, the rapid influx of population to Southern California began to be felt in the area. Garden Grove became the fastest growing city in the nation with an increase in population from 3,000 to 123,000.
The Garden Grove Chamber celebrates 113 years of service to the community. The Chamber continues to be a force in community improvement, with emphasis placed on advocacy for business.
The Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce is diligent in serving local residents, businesses, and visitors as well as serving as a community information center. Each day, the Chamber answers inquires, fields questions, and distributes literature about local events and activities, community services and related information. Through its activities and resources, the Chamber is able to promote the community’s values and aesthetics as being an excellent place to work, shop, and live.
The Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit, non-governmental, voluntary membership organization comprised of local businesses and leaders interested in enhancing our community. It serves as the link between businesses, local government, neighborhood associations, and the general public. Chamber members are able to mutually aid each other in promoting and producing business, and aid the community by providing important services and tax revenues.
The Chamber is involved in various fundraising activities throughout the year, including the Annual Gala, State of the City by the Garden Grove Mayor, Chamber and Garden Grove Community Foundation Golf Classic, and provides many networking opportunities and functions for our members. Interaction with the entire Garden Grove community is an integral part of the Chamber’s objectives.